Business

San Francisco subpoenas Uber and Lyft over how they classify drivers, with eye to boosting their status

Reuters

San Francisco’s city attorney has subpoenaed Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. to turn over records relating to how the ride-hailing firms classify drivers, as well as driver wages, health care and other benefits in the latest probe in the city’s year-long investigation into the companies.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said on Tuesday he was seeking evidence that Uber and Lyft are in compliance with a recent California Supreme Court decision that makes it much easier for workers to prove they are employees entitled to benefits and protections, rather than independent contractors.

Experts say many companies, including Uber and Lyft, may soon have to raise pay or provide more benefits to workers due to the court decision last month, which adopted a new test for determining whether workers are employees. Companies that want to classify workers as independent contractors must now prove they are not under their direct control, do not perform a core function of their business and are engaged in an independent business.

Uber and Lyft drivers are classified as independent contractors, and they lack paid sick and vacation days and must pay their own expenses, such as car maintenance and gasoline.

“We don’t know whether these ride-hailing companies are breaking the law until they provide the information we seek in these subpoenas,” Herrera said. “We are going to ensure that these companies comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling and with San Francisco’s laws.”

Uber and Lyft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.